Dallas PD Chief David Brown to retire in October

The leader of the Dallas Police Department is stepping down.

Chief David Brown announced his retirement Thursday with the following letter:

After much prayer, I am announcing my retirement from the Dallas Police Department after 33 years as a Dallas police officer. My retirement will be effective October 22, 2016.

Serving the citizens of Dallas in this noble profession has been both a true honor and a humbling experience.

Thank you to Mayors, City Managers and Dallas City Council members past and present for allowing me to serve. Thank you for the service you have provided for this great city.

I became a Dallas cop in 1983 because of the crack cocaine epidemic's impact on my neighborhood in Oak Cliff. I wanted to be part of the solution. Since that time I have taken great pride in knowing that we have always been part of the solution and helped to make Dallas the world class city it is today.

Let's always remember the fallen officers including the five officers on July 7, 2016, and the brave men and women of the Dallas Police Department for their sacrifices to keep Dallas safe. Their memory will remain with all of us forever. I know the people of Dallas will never forget the ultimate sacrifice they made on the streets of our city that awful night.

Officers, your extraordinary service will forever be etched in my heart and will serve as a guidepost for me in the next phase of my life. You will always be in my prayers.

I want to thank my family for their love and support.

This is a difficult decision. I pray for your understanding and well wishes.

Finally, I want to acknowledge my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for my life, health, and strength. I pray for His continued blessings over my life.

Thank you Dallas and God bless!!

Brown has faced criticism over the past year because of a spike in violent crime, high officer turnover and low department morale. There were calls for his resignation from the police associations after he made big changes in schedules to combat the spike in crime.

The July 7 police ambush cast Chief Brown into the national spotlight. Exhausted and heartbroken, he touched a nerve when he described police as being stretched too thin.

July 7 was also a turning point in Chief Brown's relationship with the police associations, which got behind him with unanimous support.

He was also applauded by many when he encouraged protesters to stop marching and apply for a job at DPD.

Chief Brown leaves the department at a time when police pay and protection are top issues, and the city faces tough competition for new recruits

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said the police chief's announcement that he will retire next month is bittersweet.

And while the news is a surprise to just about everyone, the mayor said it's not a total surprise to him. Rawlings said Brown had been talking with him about plans to retire for about a year now.

"We wanted to pace this out, do it in the right way. July 7 came and we sort of forgot about that," Rawlings said. "He told me once he started thinking about it, praying about it with his wife, this fall would be a good time to leave."

As the city's longest serving chief in recent decades, Brown always had support from the mayor and city manager.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott released a statement saying in part, "Thanks to his unwavering commitment to protecting his community, Dallas has emerged even stronger, and on behalf of the entire State of Texas, Cecilia and I thank him for his service."

Texas Senator Ted Cruz tweeted, "Brown brought Dallas together when forces of hate tried tearing it apart. Thx for your service, Chief."

Brown's last day will be October 22.

Assistant Chief David Pughes will serve as interim police chief.